CANTON, Ohio – Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Dylan Windler has been praised for his basketball IQ since he was drafted by the Cavaliers in the first round last June. But a training camp stress reaction in his left leg has so far prevented him from showing those traits on the court.
On Thursday, Windler had his first G League rehab assignment with the Canton Charge. He showed how the best attributes of his game could help the Cavs on both ends of the floor in the Charge’s 116-109 win over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Windler, a wing from Belmont, came off the bench and played 17 minutes, scoring eight points on 50% shooting from field. He finished with four turnovers and shot 25% from the 3-point line. He also grabbed four rebounds.
“It felt good,” Windler said afterward. “I didn’t play too many minutes, but I think a good amount. The training staff kind of wanted to limit me a little bit. It felt really good being able to play out there, play with these guys.”
Windler said his return date will depend on how he does in the next week or two with the Charge. He’ll have to see how his leg feels as he takes on more minutes.
“If everything goes well, probably in a couple weeks,” Windler said.
Thursday, Windler showed his knowledge of floor balance and the ability to move without the ball. On one play in the first quarter, Windler had an open 3-pointer in the corner, but made an extra pass to the wing.
Sir’Dominic Pointer took the shot and missed. But Windler repositioned himself near the wing, and when the Charge got the offensive rebound, he was fouled as he made a two-pointer.
“I think just the systems that I’ve played, especially at Belmont in four years, we just played really good basketball there,” Windler said. “And it kind of just rubbed off on me and just kind of always been part of who I was as a player. It’s how I got to be the player I am.”
While Windler displayed his effective offensive play, he also showed some defensive ability. At 6-6, Windler is the typical height of an NBA wing, but a 6-10 wingspan helps keep opponents at bay.
On a second-quarter play, Windler jumped to defend a potential alley-oop. Rio Grande completed the pass, but couldn’t convert the dunk — although Windler was called for a foul. Still, it was a determined defensive effort.
Tyler Neal, who is an assistant coach for Canton, was the Charge’s head coach Thursday night. Head coach Nate Reinking was away from the team, as he went to mourn the passing of his father-in-law in England.
Neal acknowledged how Windler’s length helps him on defense, but noted how his smarts on that end serves him best.
“He knows where to be on the floor, he positions himself,” Neal said. “He’s in his spots early, so I think it’s more about that. And the fact that he does have good length is a bonus.”